A FORMER Government minister visited Worcester to back Councillor Joy Squires’ bid to become the city’s next MP - and said the seat was vital to Labour’s hopes.

Liam Byrne, the shadow work and pensions secretary, made a whistle-stop visit to the Faithful City to start planning the party’s General Election strategy.

Coun Squires will come up against Conservative MP Robin Walker in the 2015 contest, who has a slim 2,982 majority.

Mr Byrne admitted Ed Miliband was “going all in on Worcester” as the outcome could go a long way to deciding who runs the country.

He said: “We are very hopeful about Worcester - we realise how important the seat is to the winners.

“Joy is working very hard and has built this huge campaign team around her, and it’s vital to us.

“People are feeling really under the cosh right now, there’s lots of worries over youth unemployment and families are being clobbered.

“We are going all-in on Worcester. We want to get people’s trust that we can return to Government once again.

“We’ve got to show we are the party to do that and Joy is out there, covering all areas of the city listening to people and knocking doors.

“It’s a key seat.”

Prior to Mr Walker’s victory the seat was held by former Labour MP Mike Foster, and historically whichever party secures the seat goes on to form the next Government.

During his trip he went to The Spires restaurant at the Worcester College of Technology, in Deansway, where students cooked a meal for party activists.

After the gourmet meal Mr Byrne, who served as minster of state for borders and immigration under Tony Blair’s Government, was guest speaker.

Coun Squires said: "The students we met were enthusiastic and full of praise for the college, and I am pleased we were able to show Liam Byrne how successful we can be in Worcester."